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Sinclair Ransomware Attack


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Early Sunday morning, the Sinclair stations were hit with what appears to be an extremely severe ransomware attack.  It appears most, if not all, of the stations have experienced severe issues with their on-air feeds.  Problems include missing commercial breaks, cancelled newscasts at some stations, barebones newscasts at stations that were able to cobble something together, and - in some extreme cases - going off-air entirely, with a stream of Sinclair's Charge network replacing regular programming.

 

As the day has progressed it has become increasingly clear that the magnitude of the attack by far dwarfs the similar attack at Cox stations this summer, solely due to the size of the company.  As the issue is particularly widespread, we should have a centralized thread for discussion.  I have a feeling the problems we've seen so far on Sunday are the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

 

WHAT WE KNOW:

 

Stations began to have issues on Sunday morning, with many stations not doing a morning newscast entirely, chalking the problems up to "Technical Difficulties".  FTVLive was the first source to report that the stations were hit with a malware attack.  Cybersecurity reporter Catalin Cimpanu of The Record posted a more detailed report about what exactly happened:

 

 

 

The article goes on to report that many stations were joined on the same active directory, enabling the attackers to hit a large number of stations.  Master Control does not seem to be affected, as Sinclair was able to patch in one of their national diginets to replace local programming.  By numerous Twitter accounts, this affected the afternoon's NFL broadcast on a number of stations, resulting in the kind of complaints you would expect.

 

Axios reporter Sara Fischer confirmed Cimpanu's scoop, and the story has so far been picked up by sports broadcasting blog Awful Announcing.  The story will probably go wider as the severity of the attack is revealed.

 

This could not have happened at a worse time for Sinclair, as the company's regional sports networks are believed to be in rough shape, facing rebukes from sports leagues, and possibly headed for bankruptcy.

 

I'll try to update this post as news trickles in, but for now, feel free to report on how your Sinclair station is faring during *waves hands wildly*.

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Sinclair statement super-cut    

Some more coverage of the Sinclair Ransomware Attack from FTVLive and it does not look like Sinclair is being too truthful right now.   Ripley is essentially saying that "only" the emails ar

Do the ads have phone numbers on them?  They're probably "per inquiry" ads that only make money based on people actually calling the number.   Usually of the legal, medical, extended warranty, or "if

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A few notes on what we've seen so far:

 

News

 

At some stations, particularly smaller ones (e.g. Jefferson City), the stations failed to air their planned early and late evening newscasts. At others, newscasts were improvised with minimal graphics and video played out from computers, sometimes experiencing technical failures. In some areas, local news headlines were presented on Facebook Live.

 

WWMT advised viewers to send news tips to a Gmail account.

 

Production of newscasts from outside the company (e.g. the WPXI news on WPGH) was not affected.

 

Sports

 

The early and late NFL broadcasts were most affected for streaming service users, and many people did not get the advertised NFL game for their area (often seeing bowling on Fox). There was also a lot of dead air reported at WPMI during the Sunday Night game, as the station could not air commercials.

 

KVCW Las Vegas had a broadcast of a Henderson Silver Knights AHL game. On AHLTV, the minor league's streaming service, only one camera was available and no play-by-play audio from Henderson. Viewers reported audio issues throughout the telecast.

 

Programming

 

Charge is being used as a fallback sustaining feed for stations that cannot proceed with their scheduled programs and has cropped up on WBSF, KOMO and elsewhere.

 

Even though no longer owned by Sinclair, the KOMO radio cluster is still reliant on SBGI resources and has been hit.

 

 

Edited by Samantha
fix per correction by TB
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I tried to tune in to web streams of various east coast Sinclair stations at 11pm eastern to see if they were up and running and it didn't look promising. I looked at about 8 random stations and none had any live feed available as I assume they normally would. Not sure if that meant they were not on-air with a newscast, or just couldn't stream it.

 

From what I saw locally, KATU was unable to broadcast their scheduled morning show or evening news. GMA repeats filled the morning hours and taped local specials filled the evening slots.

 

They surprisingly were on at 11pm. The anchor did address the situation at the beginning, saying the newscast would "look a little different tonight" because their parent company Sinclair was having company-wide technical issues. Then she went on to read off paper scripts for 3 min before tossing to 7 minute weathercast.

 

They had basically no graphics, no teleprompter, and no video. Only had an anchor on cam reading, multiple long weather segments, multiple skycams heading to break, and 1 live reporter who, I assume, may have been able to roll video remotely as that was the only time we saw video. They also had their sports guy do "highlights" with just him sitting on cam. 🤷‍♂️

 

 

Edited by PTVNews
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Question, is there any Sinclair station on the East Coast running 4pm news right now?

 

So far I've checked 2 stations (WSBT and WKRC) and there is absolutely nothing. The only thing I saw on WKRC's end was a 30 second ad.

 

Keep in mind I'm checking out the Sinclair stations via NewsOn.

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I checked out their News 24/7 channel on their Stirr service (which I believe just airs clips from Sinclair newscasts on a loop) and all it was running was their commercial break slide up for the 15 or so minutes I had it on

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Bouncing around some streams, I see smaller markets airing CBSN and GMA3 in place of evening newscasts. The mothership WBFF appeared to be up and running but without music, graphics, or live shots. WJLA had graphics and a reporter tagging out of a live shot (though it may have been pre-recorded), then they teased a few stories and tossed to break cold (no music). 

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KOKH at 5pm:

 

They ran a bare-bones newscast their robotic cameras as well as Computers aren't working. The Chromakey Wall is still not working but they do have weather graphics (albeit outsourced)

 

The 5:30 half-hour appears to be a rerun of the 5pm newscast.

 

All I gotta say is that it looks rough and it's nicht gut.

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16 hours ago, Samantha said:

 

The early and late NFL broadcasts were most affected for streaming service users, and many people did not get the advertised NFL game for their area (often seeing bowling on Fox). There was also a lot of dead air reported at WPMI during the Sunday Night game, though a separate master control issue for the Pensacola/Mobile double duopoly has been mentioned as the cause.

 

What I said earlier was a prior failure several months earlier at the hub affected programming at the time, and had nothing to do with today's issues.  Basically the tweet that was posted was the result of only being able to air a raw network feed.   No ability to playback local content from the servers or be able to switch it in.

Edited by tyrannical bastard
clarification
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1 hour ago, tyrannical bastard said:

 

What I said earlier was a prior failure several months earlier at the hub affected programming at the time, and had nothing to do with today's issues.  Basically the tweet that was posted was the result of only being able to air a raw network feed.   No ability to playback local content from the servers or be able to switch it in.

 

I misread your post; thanks for the correction.

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Checking in The National Desk tonight (more minor for sure); no L3s or local T&T bug on WVTV, and it looks like they're controlling in and out of ads locally. On-air impact in Milwaukee has been incredibly minimal, but WLUK/Green Bay's site is a mix of days-old stories and weather forecasts seemingly screen-captured in VLC and not in screen-filling 16:9 (I'm sure their priority yesterday; 'air the damned Packer game in some way!' and make sure WoF/J! aren't affected). And no regional weather roundup at the end of the hour.

Edited by mrschimpf
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Checking in with KOKH again at 9 and at 10pm.

 

No on-screen bug whatsoever they were still doing a bare bones newscast. They were doing a story on the Christmas Tree shortage when as soon as the report was over the issues knocked the rest of the 9pm show and it looks like it just took the 10pm newscast off the air. They're currently running TND

 

KOCB at last checked was fine earlier but now I don't see the on-screen CW34 logo at all and as I'm posting this to the thread the ransomware attack may have just taken KOKH/KOCB's programming off the air, but they are still on the air though.

 

EDIT: KOCB is currently running TBD programming

Edited by dman748
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Does this only affect local news or does it affect network and syndicated programming too?

 

I tried to watch Wheel on WWMT tonight and their Paramount+ feed was just the CBS network feed; as soon as CBSEN signed off, there was a black screen for a few moments, then the 10-second countdown into the version that is feed at 7:00 ET. However, the feed of WWMT on my IPTV was showing Wheel.

 

 

Edited by WheelWarrior
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10 hours ago, WheelWarrior said:

Does this only affect local news or does it affect network and syndicated programming too?

 

I tried to watch Wheel on WWMT tonight and their Paramount+ feed was just the CBS network feed; as soon as CBSEN signed off, there was a black screen for a few moments, then the 10-second countdown into the version that is feed at 7:00 ET. However, the feed of WWMT on my IPTV was showing Wheel.

 

 

 

Speaking from personal viewing experience, it likely affects syndicated programming too. Back when Coxpollo had theirs, WAXN aired the wrong episode of The Goldbergs one night. Also they aired Right This Minute at midnight and 12:30 one night about that time instead of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers.

Edited by Nelson R.
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WTOV posted this notice. According to comments on their Facebook page, J! and Wheel last night were replaced with a "news show", and the same is happening today with 25 Words or Less and Kelly Clarkson.

 

 

Edited by WheelWarrior
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Some more coverage of the Sinclair Ransomware Attack from FTVLive and it does not look like Sinclair is being too truthful right now.

 

Ripley is essentially saying that "only" the emails are down which we all know that's not true, even the tweet several posts above proves that. Sinclair is also painting as if it's just a "minor inconvenience" which again that's not true.

 

One manager is calling this a "COMPLETE F***ING MESS" saying that corporate thinks that it works in one area, it works in another when it's not the case and that Sinclair is leaving them high and dry.

 

The bottom line is when Sinclair does its quarterly report next month there will be a lot of questions about this directed to Chris Ripley he MUST answer for.

Edited by dman748
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43 minutes ago, dman748 said:

Some more coverage of the Sinclair Ransomware Attack from FTVLive and it does not look like Sinclair is being too truthful right now.

 

Ripley is essentially saying that "only" the emails are down which we all know that's not true, even the tweet several posts above proves that. Sinclair is also painting as if it's just a "minor inconvenience" which again that's not true.

 

One manager is calling this a "COMPLETE F***ING MESS" saying that corporate thinks that it works in one area, it works in another when it's not the case and that Sinclair is leaving them high and dry.

 

The bottom line is when Sinclair does its quaterly report next month there will be a lot of questions about this directed to Chris Ripley he MUST answer for.

Sinclair has no choice but to put lipstick on an ugly pig as they know this, along with the RSN fiasco, could spell the end of them.

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Checked the following Sinclair stations that air Wheel of Fortune on Tuesday night at 7:00 or 7:30 ET and they were airing The National Desk instead:

- KHQA Quincy, IL

- WSBT South Bend, IN

- KVII Amarillo, TX

 

KPTH-DT3 Sioux City was showing CBSN on Paramount+ instead of Wheel. Not sure if that was also the case OTA.

 

A couple of fans in Michigan on Twitter were saying that there was no WOF or J! on Monday or Tuesday, with one of them saying that they were replaced with Wipeout reruns (which I believe are meant for weekends; WABC airs those after midnight on Saturdays). I'm guessing this was WPBN in Traverse City because the only other Sinclair station based on Michigan that carries the duo is WWMT, and they aired the shows fine yesterday and today OTA, and today is back to normal on the P+ stream as well (yesterday had a repeat of CBSEN at 7:00).

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WVTV-DT2 is currently airing an already scheduled episode of Our Issues Milwaukee which was already pre-scheduled over an episode of Chicago Fire on MNTV. For their regular syndicated programming, the corner bug is airing, but here it's specifically not being carried, suggesting that right now local control is still over-riding the master control. The CW on DT1 is AOK (at least there if it comes down to desperation you can pull in the Plus feed during network time).

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